MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 27, 2013

Heat-loving crops’ time to shine

Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market

— With school back in session, and a few more weeks of late-summer heat still likely to come, it’s a good time to find quick and easy recipe ideas for meals and snacks.

And with the higher temps comes a plentiful supply of heat loving crops like okra, which is now widely available from local growers at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market, Arnold’s Fruit Company and various roadside stands.

To help Muskogee area shoppers learn and taste some simple ways to prepare the numerous varieties of fruits and veggies currently available, this Saturday is the second annual Raw Crazy! event at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market, with free samples available from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

The event is a great chance to see how easy it is to prepare and serve raw snacks and platters featuring most of the fresh produce items available at the market. It’s also a good excuse to try some things different from the same old stuff we always eat.

Besides the fresh picked okra, an abundance of other locally-grown produce is available at the farmers market, including green, red and pink tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peaches, green and colored bell peppers, cayenne and other hot peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, basil, rosemary, mint and other fresh-cut herbs, radishes, beets, turnips, garlic, carrots, asian spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, micro greens and more.

Growers will also have various cuts of frozen grass-fed Dexter beef, potted herbs and aloe vera, fresh cut-flower bouquets and a few water plants.

Other food items expected at the market include ready-to-eat lunch and breakfast items such as breakfast burritos, tamales, hot dogs, polish sausages and chicken dogs with grilled veggies, lemonade and other tasty items.

Vendors will also have hand-made candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats, jewelry, aprons, handbags and more. Not all produce or other products listed are available on Wednesdays.

On most Wednesdays, from 10:30 a.m. until 1p.m., OSU Nutrition Educator Michelle Carter-Brown will be at the market fixing simple, affordable and healthy meal and snack ideas with free samples and recipes, featuring items fresh from the market. Demonstrations at today’s market will highlight fresh okra and tomatoes in the recipe below.

SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the farmers’ market. Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with their Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers’ market tent, swipe their card in exchange for tokens, and shop with vendors offering eligible items, which also include food-bearing plants.

And on most Saturdays, B.J. Charbonneau of the Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center will teach free Tai Chi classes near the band-shell and lawn area next to the market at about 10 a.m., weather permitting.

Also on most Wednesdays and Saturdays, Muskogee County Master Gardeners from OSU Extension will be on hand with handy demonstrations and ready to tackle yard and garden questions from anyone needing their help. Their featured topic this week will be soil amendments.

The Muskogee Farmers’ Market is open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, under the covered parking pavilions downtown in front of the Civic Center.



Okra and Tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound okra, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 med–large fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in a heavy nonreactive skillet over medium high heat. Cook onion 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add okra and cook another 5-6 minutes, or until okra begins to brown. Stir in tomatoes, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Cover skillet and simmer over low heat 15–20 minutes or until thickened.



Reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012 or email him at doug.ewalton@gmail.com.